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EVENTS · Nordic Morning

Nordic Business Forum 2016: “It’s all about connecting the disconnected”


Last week, over 5,700 business executives from 30 different countries gathered at Helsinki Convention Centre for Nordic Business Forum 2016. The main theme of the event was advantage and the three tracks to achieve it: digitalization, culture and marketing. Nordic Morning was one of the proud partners of the event.

By: Hanna Isohanni-Nikula, a strategist from Sitrus
Image: © Nordic Busines Forum and Studio Kraft

Scott Galloway. Gary Vaynerchuck. Seth Godin. Tony Hawk. Frida Boisen and Pia Kalsta. The marketing line-up for this year’s seminar was really timely as it included widely recognized thinkers from both traditional and social media. The forces from the brand building world and the opposition also got to clash as professor Scott Galloway kicked off the Thursday sessions by declaring that brands as we know them are dying:

– Brands have been an effective way for us to make purchase decisions for 70 years. As technology gives us more effective ways to identify products and services that are better matched to our needs, this is changing.

Galloway’s take on the 4P model’s “promotion” part is basically that advertising as we know it is about to vanish soon.

Galloway says that traditional media solutions still reach a part of the population, but especially younger generations are ignoring newspapers, magazines, TV and advertising. As a way of starting the conversation with the customer he emphasizes influencers and retail experiences especially in the beginning of a brand relationship.

And yes – Galloway really talked about a relationship between the brand and its audience. Even to the point that the brand story should not be targeted at the customers’ brain but the heart – or even lower parts of the human body. (I wonder if iPhone users got luckier than Android users in the Helsinki nightlife last Thursday – like Galloway predicted.)

“Who’s the editor-in-chief of your business?”

Gary Vaynerchuck – or GaryVee as known on social media – shook things up by reminding the audience of the importance of content and stories. He pointed out that every business should consider itself as a media (and as a content strategist I couldn’t agree more with him). Vaynerchuck knows his stuff as he started his career by growing his family wine business via – what a surprise – a YouTube channel.

I think the key takeaway from Vaynerchuck’s presentation is that we have to constantly look for the topics and discussions our audience – our customers – are having, and then help them to address the issues or find the inspiration they are looking for.

Another important insight, actually included in many speeches, is that we as marketers shouldn’t make such a big difference between the means of B2B and B2C marketing. Instead, we should craft engaging storylines and influencer co-operation in both these branches. At the end of the day, it’s always about us humans.

“Dare to be remarkable”

Seth Godin has been the tribes marketing man since his book “Tribes” was launched in 2008. His presentation on how to make your ideas spread was truly inspirational and on-topic: as marketers, our job is to look at the world from different perspectives and connect the disconnected.

Most companies are afraid to be remarkable (staying true to your art, as Godin put it) and the fear keeps them from genuinely connecting with their audience. This means that if we can think of our efforts as – like professor Galloway said – building a relationship by first opening a conversation and then being worth it, we will find it rewarding for us and our businesses.

As humans, we have an inner motivation to come together, to form a tribe. That is why creating a common culture, myths and stories with our audiences are such efficient ways to build relationships between people and brands. What are the things that “people like us” do? The answer helps you to find the movement you can and want to give spark to.  

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk elaborated on Godin’s themes by sharing his own story of being a small uncool boy on a skateboard growing up to be one of the most successful people in sports. When asked about his secret, he mentioned authenticity: staying true to what you love and being engaged with different communities.  

Do you want to hear what the seminar guests think on digitalization and marketing – and the advantage businesses can achieve with them? Some of the guests shared their views with us – you can find the videos here.